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2014 in Review – Thank You Readers!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Thanks to all my readers. I hope you keep visiting and I hope to be more productive with my posts this year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 260,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 11 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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DON’T PANIC! One Week Until Christmas: Tips to Help You Cope

If you’re cooking the Christmas dinner this year why not give yourself the best present of all, an easy time! It’s just one day, it’s not really that much more effort than an ordinary roast dinner, and it is ok to cheat if it’ll make the cook calmer and happier. Anyone that doesn’t like it can make the Christmas dinner next year!

Sit down and plan what you’re actually going to cook and what people will eat (there’s really no point in preparing a pound of sprouts if only one person eats them!).

Know how much you can get in your oven! Will two types of meat, roast potatoes, stuffing and yorkshire puddings fit in your oven all at the same time? No? Make some stuff in advance or consider using a slow cooker – lamb shoulder, pork shoulder, and whole chickens taste great done in the slow cooker and you can cook the carrots and swede in with them too instead of boiling them. If you have an ActiFry consider doing your roast vegetables/potatoes in that.

Start making stuff now, all that really needs to be cooked on the day is the meat, the stuffing, the roast potatoes (you can reheat them but they are best the first time around), and the gravy. The freezer is your new bestfriend. Start cooking the side dishes, do one a night and freeze them until the big day. The advantage of this is you can hit the supermarkets now while they’re quieter without having to worry about it going off before the big day. Mashed vegetables and yorkshire puddings are fine reheated and it saves hob and oven space on the day.

Cheat! Iceland frozen mash is great. You do it in the microwave, all you need to do is add a bit more milk to loosen it up a bit, or you could use butter or cream to make it extra special. You can get practically everything prepared now, you just need to make sure you’re oven is big enough to fit all the containers!

Drink! Something alcoholic always aids the cooking experience.

Here are some recipes for the basics but you can also check out my Christmas Category or use the search bar at the side for other recipes.

Beef Wellington

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Roast Goose

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Slow Cooker Roasted Shoulder of Lamb

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Roast Pork with Crackling & Gravy

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Braised Pork

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Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

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Goose Fat Roasted Potatoes

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Honey Roasted Carrots & Parsnips

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Mashed Potato

Carrot & Swede Mash

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Yorkshire Puddings

Giant and Medium Yorkshires

Giant and Medium Yorkshires

Pigs in Blankets

Reheating Roast Potatoes & Vegetables

Mary Berry’s Chocolate Yule Log

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Braised Pork

Ok, so my promise to blog more regularly hasn’t really been fulfilled over the past few weeks. Partly life has gotten in the way, and partly because of an unreliable internet connection.

Anyway I hope this recipe will make up for it.

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This recipe was cooked in a conventional oven, but could be easily adapted for a slow cooker. Follow the recipe to step 3, and then place ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.

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Ingredients:

Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

Red onioins – 2 (sliced)

Balsamic vinegar – 2 tablespoons

Pork leg – 3lb/1.2kg

Chicken oxo cube

Potatoes – 4 medium sized (halved)

Carrots – 3 (chopped)

Celery – 3 stalks (chopped)

Worcester sauce – 2 tablespoons

Seasoning – salt, pepper, mixed herbs and sage.

Equipment: Chopping board, knife, lidded casserole

Method:

  1. Heat the casserole dish, add the olive oil and onions. Fry on a medium heat until softened.
  2. Add balsamic vinegar and sautee.
  3. Remove excess fat from the pork, season and sear on all sides.
  4. Add the vegetables, stock cubes, seasoning and Worcester sauce.
  5. Add boiling water until Pork is almost covered.
  6. Bring to boil, cover and place in preheated oven (160°C/ Fan 140°C/ Gas 3).
  7. Cook for 3 hours.
  8. Remove meat to carve (though it’ll probably fall apart more than more than slice!). The stock can also be reduced if a thicker gravy is desired.

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Slow Cooker Roasted Shoulder of Lamb in Redcurrant Sauce

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I’m still trying to get back into the blogging swing of things. In the final stages of my thesis getting it done was pretty all-consuming, and most extra-curricular activities went out the window. Now I’m trying to remember how I occupied my free time before, and I have a distant memory of blogging being a big part of that, so I’m going to try my best to write as least one post a week and start interacting with the blogging community again.

My post for this week is a lovely lamb dish. Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about pork and as I’ve just bought a pizza stone I’m going to be giving homemade pizzas a go again. If you can’t wait for that check out my previous pizza posts Deep Pan Pizza and Pizza with Quick Tomato Sauce.

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This recipe is a slight variation on a previous post that is pretty popular, Slow Cooker Minted Lamb. Using a slow cooker is a great way to cook lamb shoulder, which tastes amazing when slow cooked, and in the summer it is more economical and cooler than having the oven on for hours and hours. It also allows you to cook the sides in one pot at the same time as the lamb, so less washing up!

If you fancy a more traditional recipe for lamb shoulder done in the slow cooker check out my Slow Cooker Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Garlic, Rosemary and Lamb Gravy.

This recipe serves 2-3.

Ingredients:

Lamb shoulder – 2lb/0.9kg

Garlic – 4-5 cloves (sliced)

Seasoning – salt & pepper

Olive oil – 1-2 tablespoons

Potatoes – 3-4 medium (halved)

Carrots – 4 (thickly sliced)

Lamb stock – ½ pint/300ml

Red onions – 2 (halved & sliced)

Plain flour – 2 tablespoons

Red wine vinegar – 2-3 tablespoons

Redcurrant jelly – 4 heaped tablespoons

Equipment: Chopping board, knife, slow cooker, frying pan, tongs, wooden spoon

Method:

1. Remove any excess fat from the lamb shoulder and make incisions in the flesh, putting a slice of garlic in each incision, and season.

2. On a hot hob heat the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and brown the lamb on all sides.

3. Put the potatoes, carrots and lamb stock into the crock-pot and set the slow cooker on high.

4. When the lamb is browned put it in the crock-pot on top of the vegetables.

5. Turn the frying pan down to a medium heat, add more olive oil if needed and fry the onions and remaining garlic.

6. When the onions are golden brown add the flour and mix in before adding the vinegar and redcurrant jelly. Simmer for a few minutes.

7. Pour over lamb and cook on high and cook for another 5-7 hours.

8. Remove lamb from the crock-pot and rest for a couple of minutes before carving. The meat should fall off the bone.

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I’m Back!!! And I’m Bringing Ribs! Barbecue Ribs with Garlic & Smoked Paprika

I haven’t blogged for a very long time. I am terribly sorry, but I do have a really good excuse. I’ve spent the last 6 months frantically finishing my PhD thesis. I finally submitted at the end of May and have spent the past few weeks recovering and generally avoiding my laptop unless I wanted to watch a dvd.

Now, however, I feel suitably recovered to start blogging again and get back into cooking. I have to admit over the last couple of months my culinary exploits didn’t go much further than roasting a chicken, and a lot of my meals were derived from the contents of my freezer, and we’re talking totally prepared and processed. Needless to say being tied to a desk for months and eating more pizzas a week than I’d generally have in a month I have also piled on the pounds, so I’m back on the Slimming World Diet again, so a lot of the recipes over the next few months will be diet-compatible, but I thought I’d start with something a bit more decadent: Barbecue Ribs with Garlic & Smoked Paprika.

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Equipment: large bowl, spoon, cling film, baking tray, tin foil.

Ingredients:

Pork ribs – 1.5lb/750g

Smoked paprika – a couple of teaspoons, depending on how hot you like it.

Mustard Powder – a couple of teaspoons.

Ground ginger – a couple of teaspoons.

Garlic – 4-5 cloves (minced or finely chopped.

Barbecue sauce – a couple of tablespoons.

Method:

  1. Put the pork in a bowl with the spices and garlic, and coat well. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  2. Add the barbecue sauce, mix well, recover and return to fridge. Leave for as long as you can.
  3. Preheat oven at (200°C/Fan 180°/Gas 6). Arrange ribs on baking tray, cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil, turn the ribs and cook for another 20 minutes. If you like your ribs sticky you could brush with more barbecue sauce at this stage. Alternatively, you can stick them on the barbecue to finish them off at this point.
  5. When cooked, remover from the oven and place the ribs on a wire rack to allow some of the fat to drain.
  6. Plate up and eat!
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Happy New Year & 2013 in Review

Happy New Year to all my followers and readers! 2013 was another great year for my blog and I’m hoping 2014 will be even better with all your support.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Croissant

This is a delicious, quick and easy yet classy breakfast or brunch dish. It would be great to have on Christmas morning when you want to be a little decadent but don’t have the time to prepare anything too time consuming, also there’s next to no washing up!DSCF2405[1]

With light and airy croissants a little smoked salmon goes on long way so it’s not too hard on the budget either.

Ingredients:

Croissant – 1 per person

Cream cheese – spread as thinly or thickly as you like

Smoked Salmon – approx. 1 slice per croissant

Method:

  1. Heat the croissants as per the instructions on the packet.
  2. Split in centre, spread with cheese and add the smoked salmon.
  3. Heat in the oven for another minute and serve.

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